There’s something gloriously natural about the sound that Lily and Madeleine make. The closing moments of ‘Peppermint Candy’, when the layers of acoustic guitar and pounded piano merge, capture the emphatic and euphoric joys of artists lost in the moment of playing a song they love. It is one of my favourite songs of 2014 for that very reason. That slightly understated, honest presentation is what makes ‘Fumes’ such a special listen. They just missed out on my 2013 list with their, still impressive, self-titled debut but the gentle evolution of their approach combined with some fine songwriting guaranteed them a spot this time around.
Plenty has been written about the fact that both are still teenagers, but what is truly noteworthy about American sisters Lily and Madeleine Jurkiewicz is their very particular sound which they push and pull as the track requires, possessing the ability to blindside you with startlingly potent moments rising up unexpectedly in their beautiful songs. The spaced out slumber of closing number ‘Blue Blades’ is beguilingly melancholic, while ‘The Wolf Is Free’ has a playful vocal melody set atop a swirling backdrop which threatens to collapse in on itself at one point. The mournful strings in ‘Lips And Hips’ cut right through, drawing attention to the curious, questioning lyrics.
While First Aid Kit went for the ‘big label big sound’ approach that rendered Band Of Horses fit only for the knacker’s yard with varying musical success, Lily and Madeleine seem to have picked up the baton for magical, understated and charmingly warm country-flecked pop. While one duo took all of the attention and most of the sales, a far better record crept out and quietly did its own thing. This is an incredibly cohesive listen – the sort of set you select to soundtrack the part of a long journey when the sun is setting, the sort of set you put on when you’re out on your feet and in need of something to stop you being able to think for a while, the sort of set that draws you in effortlessly and deposits you serenely thirty-seven minutes later. If you’re partial to a bit of ‘The Lion’s Roar’ then I cannot urge you strongly enough to give ‘Fumes’ a try. You may well find your new favourite band.